An end to snow days? Some schools continue instruction online amid winter weather

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Is the traditional snow day coming to an end?

While many school districts gave students and staff the day off amid winter weather Tuesday, others continued with remote instruction or posted student assignments online.

The districts said technology and practices implemented since the start of the pandemic have made it easier for instruction to continue outside of traditional classrooms.

“We have learned through this pandemic that we can use technology,” Kenston Local Schools Superintendent Nancy Santilli said.

In an evolution of school-issued “blizzard bags,” instead of completely giving students the day off, Kenston teachers posted assignments online for students to access and complete. Each student in the district has a school-issued tablet device.

The district, which has offered in-person instruction for all but two weeks since the start of this school year, opted against full remote instruction Tuesday.

“We did feel as though it needed to be a little bit lighter day and that students should have some fun,” she said.

Santilli said remote work is an important life skill for students to learn, and the district is cautious about meeting the state requirement for instructional hours.

“We feel it’s in the best interest of our students to continue with their academics, and we don’t want to necessarily have to extend the school year which would impact our families further,” she said.

The North Ridgeville City Schools also posted online assignments for students.

“I think the pandemic opened our eyes and our willingness to do things that I don’t know that we normally would have done, including this,” superintendent Roxann Ramsey-Caserio said.

She said she was torn between allowing kids to enjoy a traditional snow day and maintaining instructional hours to meet state guidelines. She said the district started its school year late as it developed its pandemic instructional plan, and school days have been shortened.

“I don’t want to put us in a situation where we need to extend the school year into June when it’s sunny and beautiful,” she said.

Ramsey-Caserio said she not want to require teachers to drive to school buildings in snowy conditions to conduct remote instruction.

However, South Euclid Lyndhurst Schools and Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District each instituted a remote learning day Tuesday, with students required to log on for online instruction led by teachers.

The move prompted some backlash on the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District Facebook page from people calling for traditional snow days.

“How are teachers and staff supposed to make it to the buildings?” one commenter wrote. Another said snow days are “something for everyone to be excited about during this crazy time.”

Will traditional snow days resume after the pandemic? Santilli said she expects teachers will continue to post assignments on snow days going forward.

Ramsey-Caserio said traditional snow days may return, but it’s too soon to say for sure whether snow day assignments may continue.

“I don’t want to be a fun sponge,” she said.

**Check out snow footage of downtown Cleveland in the video below.**

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